Fifteen-year-old Christian Eckes had never seen South Alabama Speedway’s pavement before the Rattler 250 weekend. There, he was going up against some of the nation’s top short track talents in the Southern Super Series, Super Late Model event. Those two factors combined led Eckes to a pre-race goal of a solid top-10 finish.
Armed with a fast race car, some good help on the radio and a gutsy pit call, Eckes left the track with results that far exceeded his initial goal.
Eckes used a four-tire pit stop following the lap-100 competition caution to gain momentum. With new rubber, he shot to second and challenged the leader ahead of him throughout most of the remaining laps before crossing beneath the checkered flag in the third position.
“I had a goal of a top-10 and to end up third is great against competition this tough,” said Eckes. “I think we could’ve maybe finished second if we had new tires for late in the race or even if a caution came out because we had such a fast car, but overall it’s a great day.”
Eckes qualified 11th and used a strategic pit call at the lap 100 break to pit for new tires. After the pit stop, he rocketed to the second position, where he pressured leader Ty Majeski down the stretch.
“It was definitely a gutsy call, but it got us track position and got us up to Majeski and we were able to battle for the lead a little bit. We had such a fast LFR Chassis, Five Star (Race Car) Bodies Chevrolet.
“I hadn’t seen the track before, but luckily we had (crew chief) Jeff Fultz on our side. He’s won the Rattler a couple times before. He was able to give me lessons on how to run the track. We came to the track just wanting a top 10, so this gives us momentum into the season.”
Eckes now hopes to carry the momentum built up at South Alabama Speedway into his next Super Late Model event, the PASS South Easter Bunny 150 on Saturday, March 26. The event will take place at Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina, a place at which the young racer has performed well in the past.
“The last time we went to Hickory with the Super Late Model was with the CARS Tour last October, when we qualified second and finished sixth. We had a really good run there. I think between our notes and this momentum we have, we’ll be one of the cars to beat there.”
For more on Christian Eckes, visit www.christianeckesracing.com, and be sure to follow him on Twitter, @ChristianEckes and “Like” his page on Facebook by searching Christian Eckes Racing.
-51 Sports press release
-Photo credit: Speed51.com/Bruce Nuttleman